50-yo Mickelson secures historic 6th major title

It was 30 years ago that Phil Mickelson won his first PGA Tour title as an amateur and now three decades later, the 50-year-old has won his sixth major title by two shots over Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.

Mickelson, who turns 51 next month, becomes the oldest major winner ever, overtaking Julius Boros’ record set at the 1968 PGA Championship at the age of 48 years, 4 months, 18 days.

Phil Mickelson Phil Mickelson (Credit: PGA Tour)

The 45-time PGA Tour winner posted a closing one-over par 73 in what was a rollercoaster round of emotions with three bogeys and birdies on the front nine followed by two birdies and another three bogeys on the way home.

“It’s been an incredible day, and I’ve not let myself kind of think about the results until now, now that it’s over,” said a relieved Mickelson.

“I believed for a long time that I could play at this level again. I didn’t see why I couldn’t, but I wasn’t executing the way I believed I could, and with the help of a lot of people, my wife especially, Andrew Getson and my brother Tim and Steve Loy, I’ve been able to make progress and have this week.”

“I love to compete, I love playing the game. I love having opportunities to play against the best at the highest level. That’s what drives me…I just didn’t see why it couldn’t be done. It just took a little bit more effort.”

It’s Mickelson’s first major title since winning The Open title in 2013, and it broke a 16-year drought at the PGA Championship, which he also won in 2005. He now has six major titles, which includes three Masters (2004, 2006, 2010).

The new World No.32 now moves into a tie for 12th for most majors won and a tie for 8th place with his 45 PGA Tour titles. His total prizemoney closes in on the $100 million mark at $94,611,761, which is second only to none-other-than Tiger Woods with $120,851,706.

Pure chaos broke out along the 18th hole after Mickelson hit a 9-iron safely to just outside 15 feet that all but secured a most improbable victory. Thousands of fans engulfed him down the fairway — a scene typically seen only at The Open — until Mickelson emerged into view with a thumbs-up.

Chants of “Lefty! Lefty! Lefty!” chased him onto the green and into the scoring tent, his final duty of a week he won’t soon forget.

‘Lefty’ was tied for the lead this weekend after 36 holes, and he was alone in the lead after 54 holes.

Mickelson became the 10th player to win majors in three decades, an elite list that starts with Harry Vardon and was most recently achieved by Tiger Woods.

“He’s been on tour as long as I’ve been alive,” Jon Rahm said. “For him to keep that willingness to play and compete and practice, it’s truly admirable.”

Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen had their chances, but only briefly. Koepka was 4 over on the par 5s when the game was still on and closed with a 74. Oosthuizen hit into the water as he was trying to make a final run and shot 73.

The victory came one week after Mickelson accepted a special exemption into the U.S. Open because at No. 115 in the world at the time, and winless the last two years, he was no longer exempt from qualifying. He had not finished in the top 20 in his last 17 tournaments over nearly nine months.

And then a week or two later he beats the strongest field of the year — 99 of the top 100 players — and made it look relatively easy for most of the tournament.

Unfortunately the news was not as good for the large Aussie contingent in South Carolina this week. European Tour player Jason Scrivener topped the Down Under assault with a share of 23rd place and 1-over with Matt Jones another shot back in 30th.

Jason Day (T44), Cam Davis (T59), Cameron Smith (T59) and Lucas Herbert (T71) were the only others to make it through to the weekend.

Both Marc Leishman and Adam Scott, who made early exits following poor opening starts.

Next up on the PGA Tour is the $7.5 million Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas with the next major on the schedule teeing off on June 17 at the US Open where Mickelson has finished runner-up six times.